Two new websites this month show that interest in the old traditions of canal boating is very much alive and well. The Packet Boat Duchess-Countess Project www.duchess-countess.org.uk is a project to re-create the canal packet-boat Duchess Countess as a true replica providing an example of the fast passenger canal boats of its period. The project will shortly be formed as a Trust that will raise funds, manage and organise the activities. The other site is the Horseboating Society www.horseboating.org.uk promoting horseboating and preserving the heritage and skills of this once common form of transport.
At present there are very few waterway sites that offer real on-line shopping so MML Electrics www.leisure-electrics.co.uk offering lighting and electrical products for boats and caravans through the web is a welcome addition to the select few.
Berkhamsted Canal and Riverside Partnership www.castlewharf.com contains details of this project set up to enhance the amenity value of the canal and riverside through Berkhamsted for both citizens and visitors. I had noticed the efforts to improve the Grand Union at Berkhamsted when passing through there last year and now this site explains how the project was started. The next site has a rather misleading name as Peter's Barge www.petersbarge.co.uk features a 57ft narrowboat on the Lancaster Canal and a sailing boat. The British Marine Federation are an organisation that has had a website for many years but now they have launched a completely new site www.britishmarine.co.uk with this new URL. For anyone with an interest in waterways photography our final new site is a real joy. Derek Pratt - Waterways Photo Library www.waterwaysphotolibrary.com has images from our leading waterways photographer whose work has been seen in books and magazines for many years.
Our virtual canal trip up the Macclesfield Canal starts at Scholar Green from where Sherborne Wharf www.sherbornewharf.co.uk operate part of their Heritage Narrow Boats hire fleet, the rest being based at Sherborne Wharf in Birmingham city. At Lyme View Marina is the Mary Sunley www.macc-cs.org.uk/macclesfield/msunley.htm a canal boat specially built to provide daytime trips for the physically or mentally disabled. Other groups may use the boat for a small additional charge. Lord Vernon's Wharf at Higher Poynton is a mile further up the canal and is home to both Braidbar Boats http://braidbarboats.co.uk a small family run business, building just 6-8 luxury boats each year, and Constellation Cruises www.constellationcruises.co.uk specialising in the hire of boats for short breaks. These two businesses share not only an address at Lord Vernon's Wharf but also a similar style of website. On the High Lane Arm of the Macclesfield Canal is North Cheshire Cruising Club www.highlane43.freeserve.co.uk formed in 1943 and claims to be the first Cruising Club on the narrow canal system of England. For everything you ever wanted to know about the Macclesfield canal go to The Macclesfield Canal Society pages www.macc-cs.org.uk, which constitute surely one of the most comprehensive waterway society sites on the web. It covers the history of the canal in some detail and has large scale cruising maps of the whole route, as well as a list of pubs, walking guide, a list of places of interest and much more.
Site of the Month
The Barnsley, Dearne & Dove Canals Trust www.barnsleydearnedovecanals.org.uk is perhaps not one of the highest profile waterways restoration organisations but that is certainly no fault of their website, which is a model of good design. The home page has a very professional look with a new logo that was introduced in August last year. On the left side of all pages is a navigation bar headed by a smaller version of the logo. The consistency of style, typeface, background and navigation bar give the pages impact and make them easy to use. Although this is not a big site, as the Trust is still in the early stages of the project, it has some well presented useful information including a map showing the route of the canals, their connections with the Sheffield & South Yorkshire and the Aire & Calder navigations, and the sections still in water. The Gallery page shows photographs of some of the parts still in water and the Bygones page has some good line drawings of the canal in its working days. There are also two History pages, one for each canal, and details of the Trusts aims and events.
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